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A sign opposing the PARCC tests is seen outside of a Montclair Cares About Schools meeting at the Montclair Fire Department headquarters on Sunday, March 12. ERIN ROLL/STAFF

By ERIN ROLL
roll@montclairlocal.news

A State Assembly resolution that advises against using PARCC tests as a graduation requirement in New Jersey is meeting with praise from some Montclair parents.
The Assembly voted, 69-3, in favor of ACR-215 on March 16.
“The concurrent resolution embodies the finding of the Legislature that the State Board of Education’s regulations to the assessments required for students to demonstrate graduation proficiency…are not consistent with the intent of the Legislature as established in State law,” says the resolution, which was approved by the Assembly Education Committee in February.
Both of Montclair’s Assembly representatives, Sheila Oliver and Thomas Giblin, voted in favor of the resolution when it went up for a general vote; state Sen. Nia Gill is one of the sponsors of the equivalent resolution in the Senate.
“I think that the general air in town is cautious. Cautiously optimistic,” said parent Colleen Daly Martinez. “I’m thrilled that the Assembly has shown overwhelmingly that they do not want PARCC to be a graduation requirement,” she said on Friday.
She said she was displeased with Senate President Stephen Sweeney, since the Senate’s version of the bill has not yet been posted for a vote.
The Assembly bill raises concerns about the re-testing opportunities for juniors and seniors who did not pass the 10th-grade literacy and algebra test the first time around, as well as the revised graduation pathways that the state plans to introduce over the next few years.
Under the current guidelines, students have three pathways through which to fulfill the state graduation requirements: take the PARCC tests and achieve a passing score; get a passing score on SATs or ACTs, or do the alternate portfolio assessment. But over the next few years, students will be required to take the PARCC test as a requirement to graduate, regardless of which graduation pathway they choose. Additionally, the state currently plans to phase out SATs as
Board of Education President Jessica de Koninck said Monday, March 27, that the board had not yet discussed some of the legislation.
She emphasized that she did not want to speak for the rest of the board, regarding an official position on using PARCC as a graduation requirement. “My own point of view… I do not think that PARCC should be used as a graduation requirement,” she said.
Board member Joe Kavesh said on Tuesday, March 28, “I do not believe that standardized testing in and of itself is a bad thing,” emphasizing that he spoke for himself and not the entire board. However, he said, there were “many, many problems” associated with the PARCC tests, and that he was in favor of ACR 215.
Montclair saw a high number of families opt their children out of the PARCC testing during the first year that the tests were in use in schools.
“I think it’s wasted resources,” Martinez said, noting that school districts were receiving less state aid while being subjected to more requirements. “And our money shouldn’t be going to Chromebooks and PARCC testing,” she said.
Sarah Tepper Blaine, a Montclair-based education writer and blogger, recently contributed a column about the March 16 vote to NJ Spotlight.
In response to a query from the Montclair Local asking her to share her thoughts, Blaine said via email, “The Assembly’s progress toward invalidating the State Board of Education regulations setting PARCC as a graduation test is welcome news, and I thank both Assemblywoman (Sheila) Oliver and Assemblyman (Thomas) Giblin for voting in favor last week. I appreciate Montclair’s Senator (Nia) Gill for starting this process by sponsoring the New Jersey Senate’s version of the resolution SCR 132 — and I urge Senate President Sweeney and Senate Education Committee Chair Ruiz to set this down for a vote immediately.”

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